DILIMAN Quezon City – The improvement of the economic and social well-being of every Agricultural Extension Worker (AEW) has always been the goal and commitment of the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI). This is consistent with the agency’s mandate of professionalizing the AEWs through the implementation of an integrated and ladderized human capital development for public extension services, and adoption of merit, promotion, and incentive system (Section 88, AFMA IRR 1997).
In 2020, the ATI has a renewed effort to revisit and review the previous documents and materials pertaining to the legislation on the Magna Carta for AEWs. A series of consultations with concerned National Government Agencies (NGAs) and recognized national associations of AEWs were conducted to come up with a comprehensive bill that will address the AEWs’ demoralized state brought about by several resources, governance, and politics-related issues and concerns. This includes the revision and refinement of provisions to sync with the current context, and emerging concerns on agricultural extension.
As a result, an updated draft policy entitled, "Magna Carta for Agricultural Extension Workers" was crafted. The proposed bill acknowledges and strengthens the importance of the AEWs’ contributions to agricultural development and modernization. This is by affirming their rights and privileges, providing an enabling work environment and support system, strengthening a mechanism for career development and professionalization, and instituting appropriate compensation through a viable evaluation and reward system.
To push for the proposed bill’s enactment, it was endorsed by Department of Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Food and Agriculture on May 21, 2021. Alongside this, the ATI took the initiative to endorse the bill to possible champions in the House of Representatives last June 17, 2021.
Among the legislators provided with the proposed bill, the office of Representative Maria Lourdes Acosta-Alba of the 1st District of Bukidnon gave their feedback, noting that it was considered for filling. By September 29, 2021, the proposed bill was filed as House Bill No. 10317 entitled, “An Act Providing for a Magna Carta for Agricultural Extension Workers” by Rep. Acosta-Alba. It is now pending in the House Committee on Agriculture and Food, for discussion.
In the context of the implementation of the Mandanas-Garcia Ruling and full devolution of the agriculture and fisheries functions and services to the local government units (LGUs), the passage of this bill will unlock the potential of AEWs and maximize their role in the continuous growth and development of the AF sector through the delivery of relevant agricultural programs and services in their localities.
Click this for a copy of the HB No. 10317